By BEN R. WILLIAMS
All anyone could talk about this past week was Will Smith slapping Chris Rock in the face at the Oscars. But if there’s one guy who could be forgiven for coming out of the audience and slapping people for being jerks to his wife, it’s Patrick G. Jackson, husband of Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
(Sorry for the bait and switch. I’ve got nothing to say about Chris Rock and Will Smith other than Rock was great in the fourth season of Fargo on FX, so check it out.)
Judge Jackson is not just qualified to be on the Supreme Court; she is arguably more qualified to be on the Supreme Court than anyone currently on the Supreme Court. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor has also served as a Circuit judge and a District judge. Jackson comes to the Supreme court with more than eight years of experience as a judge, which is more than Justices John Roberts, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, and Amy Coney Barrett combined at the times of their confirmations. She has served on the D.C. District Court for almost eight years, which would give her the most trial court experience of any sitting Supreme Court Justice confirmed within almost a century.
When cable news blowhard Tucker Carlson, a man who perpetually looks like a dog being shown a card trick, said that he wanted to see Jackson’s LSAT scores, it was a demand both insulting and absurd. It would be like hiring Frank Lloyd Wright to build your house and then asking to see his college GPA. Number one, it was probably pretty good, and number two, it hasn’t mattered in a very long time.
Considering Judge Jackson’s incredible qualifications, her Senate confirmation hearings should have been brief and uneventful. And maybe that would have been the case if we weren’t living in a country where half of our politicians have become shrieking red-faced demagogues who stand for nothing beyond feigned outrage at made-up culture war bu… bunkum. We’ll go with bunkum.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, the worst thing to happen to the state of Tennessee since the Fraterville Mine disaster, asked Judge Jackson to define a “woman.” This question obviously had something to do with hating transgender people, but as far as what it had to do with being qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, your guess is as good as mine.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a man whose moral compass is less accurate than a drunk throwing darts in a pitch-black room, peppered Judge Jackson with questions about her past sentencing of pedophiles. While the sentences handed down by Jackson in the past are well within judicial sentencing guidelines, Graham did his level best to paint Jackson as having a soft spot for pedophiles. By the way, last year, Lindsey Graham voted to promote Jackson to an appellate court, which means that now he’s either lying through his teeth about her or he’s an inhuman monster. To be fair, I suppose it could be both.
And let us not forget Sen. Ted Cruz, who has consistently beaten out ticks for the title of “America’s Most Hateful Invertebrate.”
Cruz needled Judge Jackson about Critical Race Theory. He questioned her about anti-racist books at the school her children attend. At one point he held up a children’s book called “Antiracist Baby.”
“This is a book that is taught at Georgetown Day School to students in pre-K through second grade,” Cruz said. “Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?”
That’s an actual thing that Ted Cruz said, which prompted Jackson to sigh before answering. I also sigh when I hear Ted Cruz speak; it’s the sound that happens when part of my soul leaves my body.
Cruz continued to harangue Jackson, one of our nation’s most distinguished jurists, about whether or not she had read a bunch of children’s books that argue racism is bad. She responded, with far more civility than I could ever muster, that “they don’t come up as my work as a judge, which I am respectfully here to address.”
This is just a small sampling of the absolute absurdity that many members of the Senate heaped on Judge Jackson. It’s a testament to her character that she handled it all so calmly.
The strange thing is, I don’t remember these same Senators asking Justice Brett Kavanaugh about racism. I don’t remember anyone asking Justice Amy Coney Barrett about the definition of a woman.
It’s almost as though Judge Jackson was treated differently for some reason. Maybe it’s the fact that if confirmed, she would become the first Black woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court. Maybe racism is so deeply ingrained in our society that any attacks on racism are perceived by some as attacks on society itself.
As it happens, there’s a term for that. It’s called Critical Race Theory.